Screening: Bowel Screening

The National Screening Service (NSS) introduced BowelScreen - The National Bowel Screening Programme.
BowelScreen offers free bowel screening to men and women aged 60-69 through a home test kit known as the faecal immunochemical test (FIT).

To develop the capacity to cater for the full 55-74 population, the programme is being implemented on a phased basis, starting with men and women aged 60-69. The programme will be expanded over time until the full 55-74 age group is reached. Screening will be offered every two years. However, similarly to the introduction of our other screening programmes BreastCheck and CervicalCheck, and the experience of other international screening programmes, the first round of screening is expected to take up to three years. To date over 130,000 people have been invited and the programme is on target to invite 500,000 people by the end of 2015.

Eligible men and women who indicate they wish to take part in the screening programme will be sent a FIT. This simple and easy-to-use kit includes step-by-step instructions for self-administration of the test at home. The test is returned in a special Freepost envelope to a laboratory contracted by the NSS for analysis. Results are provided within four weeks.

It is expected that most people will receive a normal test result and will be sent another home test kit in two years' time while they remain within the eligible age range.

In the small number of cases where blood is found in the test sample, a colonoscopy will be performed as part of the BowelScreen programme. The colonoscopy will take place in a screening colonoscopy unit in a hospital.

As a screening service, the NSS must ensure that quality assurance and safety are paramount, that there is adequate capacity and that there is no impact on the symptomatic service. Accordingly, the NSS is working in close partnership with the hospital colonoscopy units to ensure this.

BowelScreen has a Freephone information and support line (1800 45 45 55) that operates during normal working hours, Monday to Friday.

Colorectal Cancer in Ireland

Colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ireland with about 2,400 cases each year and it is the second most fatal cancer. By 2020, with our aging population it is estimated that there will be an increase in colorectal cancer of 79 per cent in men and 56 per cent in women. Colorectal cancer screening aims to detect both cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions and over time will reduce mortality from the disease.

Initial Candidate Colonoscopy Screening Units

Report of the International Peer Review Panel on Quality Assurance Standards for the National Colorectal Screening Programme
Download report (PDF 595KB)

National Progress Report on Endoscopy Services
Download report (PDF 1.62MB)

mplementing Ireland’s First National Population-based Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme
Download publication (PDF 115KB)


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